The Benevolent Dictator’s Association

According to a new group created on facebook the newBP is set to officially launch itself Thursday at 1pm with the attempt to refer to itself as “the Alliance”, or Bermuda Democratic Alliance for long.  For those wondering, yes that was the name of the party that was trying to be formed back about 4.5 years ago on my original wiki/blog/forum site www.bermudawiki.com and no I’m in no way associated with the newBP.  

For those interested I thought I’d share a bit of a history of 21Square.com and where the name Bermuda Democratic Alliance originally came from.  Be warned, it’s the kind of rare narcissistic rant that I’ve focused on avoiding and yet after 3 years of this blog with nearly 500 posts and some 5+ years of blogging in general I figure I’ve earned it.

It began not long after I returned to the island after a post school stint working abroad.  I was young and idealistic, disappointed with where our island was headed and did not see much hope in either of the existing parties after having met with both and shared my ideas to no avail.  I’d been following Bermuda politics online throughout school and my time after and had submitted articles/LTEs to the local papers as well as having been a guest blogger on LimeyInBermuda.com.  I was under the belief that the internet could fundamentally change the way the people communicate with their leaders.  Given the lack of traction on the part of government or the opposition I thought the most reasonable action for change for Bermuda wasn’t to join an existing party but to work outside them leveraging the internet.  Thus I formed BermudaWiki.com, which started as a wiki and morphed into a wiki/blog/forum site that migrated from trying to leverage good ideas to realizing that neither the government nor opposition were interested in ideas and that a new party was needed.

It was exiting the offices of the Bermuda Sun, following a meeting with the deputy editor regarding submitting guest columns that I met an individual and got to chatting about the need for a new party.  He seemed to think the idea was rather idealistic but told me he had a great name for it, the ‘Benevolent Dictator’s Association’ with the acronym BDA.  It drew a laugh as I considered how well it reflects out present parties and the structure of our democracy as it does seem like we elect benevolent dictators, at least for the most part.  None the less, I was struck by the acronym BDA, which seemed like the perfect one for a party.

Later I pitched the idea for the party name on the BermudaWiki forum, suggesting obviously benevolent dictator’s association wouldn’t be a fitting name, but asked for ideas for a name with BDA as the acronym.  It was Graeme Outerbridge, a frequent visitor to my site and an individual eager to see a new party who suggested Bermuda Democratic Alliance, at which point there was a resolve to actively try to form a party.  He even made whispers of it here and there back then, though mostly on LimeyInBermuda.  The issue, forming new political parties in Bermuda isn’t easy when people don’t want you to. 

One of the first ventures into attempting to form the party came in the form of trying to register www.bda.bm.  It proved an interesting saga as I was made to jump through endless hoops in what was a clear attempt to find every means to not give me the domain.  I was told I couldn’t have the domain name unless I was a registered company or charity. So I went to the registrars office and looked up the requirements as well as the listings of the existing UBP and PLP.  Turns out, they weren’t registered.  So I took this evidence back to plead my case only to be told I had to have a request printed on the letterhead and logo of the party.  So I went off, composed this and returned only to then be told that I needed to have a party constitution.  So I threw his together and returned only to be told that I needed to identify who the officers of my party was, who the treasurers were and that I needed to prove an established presence before I could get the domain name.  I tried to plead my case that the foundation of the party I was trying to form was to be solidly based upon the website and that I couldn’t possibly have directors and an established presence without attracting more individuals via a website.  The manager/director there wouldn’t budge and it became obvious that no matter what I did, the bar would be raised ever higher to prevent me. 

The handful of visitors to my site and I continued over time to try to build a following, though the reality that idealism doesn’t work in politics was setting in.  It was tough to get the word out there.  Discouraged and disappointed by the whims of government to place unnecessary barriers in what reeked of not truly caring about freedom and what is best for Bermuda’s future I lost hope and began to let go of my idealism.  If there are individuals out there who wonder what happened to the idealistic youth who only cared about bettering our future perhaps this provides some insight.  It is sad lesson to learn that for many politics and government isn’t about a better future for all Bermudians and instead is about using bureaucracy and power to your advantage to get your friends ahead and place a glass ceiling over your enemies.  No wonder I’m less of an idealist and more of a cynic and critic these days.

Ultimately things slowly evolved.  Bermudawiki went from an website about nonpartisan idea generation to one about forming a party.  Subsequently that didn’t gain the traction necessary and was stifled so things slowly evolved into the formation of a proper blog, this one to be precise.  Today, while things have changed they seemingly remain the same.  Interestingly the scope of politics has changed a bit.  The PLP might finally be gearing itself to actually address real issues with some manner of preplanning with their launch of the recent reports on black youth and Bermuda First, though it seems anything related to admitting they were wrong may well be condemned to not succeed.  We’ll see what happens, the prospects of what could happen are encouraging, though I wouldn’t hold my breath.

On the other side of the pond and new party is forming under the Bermuda Democratic Alliance name.  Too bad it’s under the context of the newBP having split off of the UBP, ruined their launch momentum and ultimately having hijacked the name I’d helped develop and hoped to use to form a party.  Meh, politics, who’s surprised?  Maybe they will bring the kind of change Bermuda so badly needs, though again, hope isn’t high.

It’s been an interesting few years to say the least.  Too bad more hasn’t happened.  There are times I wish the idealist had succeeded and that people genuinely did care about bettering Bermuda before all else.  Then I remember that politics isn’t ideal and instead is more about the benevolent dictators trying to reach the top of the bureaucracy so they can steer the path in their favour.  Ah politics, how I wish that things worked so well and ran so smoothly that I never had to worry and could be content having nothing to do with it. Oh right, there’s the idealist again.

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11 thoughts on “The Benevolent Dictator’s Association

  1. as for the useful idiot party
    BDA=Bullshit Diverts Attention
    >>.The PLP might finally be gearing itself to actually address real issues with some manner of preplanning with their launch of the recent reports on black youth and Bermuda First,
    after 11 years?
    not in your lifetime, unless it benefits EB friends & family
    the black men study will be used to whip up resentment,entitlement & payback as Bda inc. goes into even deeper winter layoff offs and business closures .
    Why no mention of the EB policy of cutting the throat of Front St. tourism and retail that provide jobs for young black men ? .
    $400,000 to point out that young black men should enter the technical trades ?
    Millions wasted on Education consultants to point out that half of young black men drop out?
    as usual,all talk no action

  2. Dennis,
    I’m not sure, but you do realise that your history of BDA as posted above is exclusive to your own vision. I’ve heard many other people since I’ve been a young lad with the same idea. There was reference to it even on LIB from 2005. It’s been kicking around for ages before you and I, by many people smarter than both you and I. How can you say that the name was hyjacked? Seriously?
    ” Then I remember that politics isn’t ideal and instead is more about the benevolent dictators trying to reach the top of the bureaucracy so they can steer the path in their favour.”
    Dennis, not all politicians are motivated by greed, some do so cause they honestly care. I think you are out of line with this comment. You can’t lump all politicians into one bag.

  3. Sean,
    Funny you mention the LIB reference from 2005. That’s the exact timeframe I was talking about and if you look to the following quote above “He even made whispers of it here and there back then, though mostly on LimeyInBermuda.” and check either the ‘here’ or ‘there’ links you’ll note that they link to specific quotes mentioning Bermuda Democratic Alliance made by Graeme Outerbridge under his then pseudonym big bad wolf and iconic ^-.^
    Eg:
    Ace play your card and help me build it! Bda. Bermuda Democratic Alliance. ^-.^
    Posted by big bad wolf on 25.03.05 at 18:45
    2005 was the exact time frame being referenced in this piece.
    I stand by my statement. Our present democracy is based upon a parliamentary system that is similar to electing your own dictator who ultimately steers the course of the future under their own desires once elected, regardless of what was pledged. You’ll also note I said “Benevolent” which if you look up the definition you’d understand what it means:
    1 a : marked by or disposed to doing good b : organized for the purpose of doing good
    2 : marked by or suggestive of goodwill
    I fundamentally, and have for quite some time believe in a more direct democratic approach that gives the people more say and more control as opposed to electing a dictator/s to reign for 5 years.
    As for the character of many individuals in politics there are many who readily will stab you in the back to spread private knowledge for their own ends. We see it all the time.

  4. Yes Dennis, but as I said, this was kicking about before 2005 as well.
    Oh so your a glass is half empty kind of guy then? I like to give people a chance to fail first before I critique them for being a part of something.
    Dennis, even under the current system you can have a more democratic way than what is currently being played out. Internal rules of the party give their leader powers, or it gives them to the people who guide the leader into doing the will of the people. I like the last way best personally, but that may be just me.
    Is it true democracy as the Greeks first invisioned it? No. Can it be flexed to work more democratically, sure! Will the overall system change down the road? Well I feel that’s for the people of Bermuda to decide.

  5. I certainly don’t rule out the possibility that it came about before I knew about it. As I suggested, I didn’t come up with the name, I attribute the credit to Graeme. As far as the available independent evidence suggests the first known usage was in 2005 by Graeme so I don’t think it is a far leap to have presumed that he coined it. I welcome evidence which suggests otherwise.
    As for the glass half empty/full debate, I’m neither. I’m the kind of guy who recognizes when the glass is twice as big as it actually needs to be.
    What I can go by is what we have now, which is 2 parties whose structure is known and a third who has no known structure. Only time will tell what course they will chart.
    Ultimately I believe that people can get into politics with the best of intentions however our perceptions and world views can cause us to do what we believe is best when really it is not the fairest action to all.
    Unless we give the people greater power and a greater voice I am not convinced that our present system can produce the greatest success for all regardless of who is in power.
    The people deciding is exactly what I advocate.

  6. I’m not sure I’d agree.
    Premier Brown believes in letting the people decide on gambling. He clarifies this to mean they should speak to their representatives to express their view.
    My belief is that issues such as gambling should be put directly to the people by way of referendum. Further I believe we should adopt the ability for there to be popular initiatives by the people so that the government must hold a referendum if there is enough support as well as having binding requirements on certain decisions to be put to the people.
    Ie, I subscribe to the guidelines put forth by the Initiative and Referendum Institute of Europe in their “Guidebook to direct democracy” (http://www.iri-europe.org/en/publications/guidebooks/2008-edition/)
    If you can say you subscribe to the same then I’d be inclined to agree with regards to mindset, otherwise, I respectfully disagree.
    As for letting the people decide if there is to be a new system, especially one like the one laid out in the above guidebook, well as of yet none of the existing parties are proposing a new system, yours included, so in reality the people are not being given the opportunity to decide.

  7. “My belief is that issues such as gambling should be put directly to the people by way of referendum.”
    I agree with you here, this is exactly what I would want to see and push for.
    As for the guidbook, let me at least take a look and respond in time. So quick to denounce me here. I’ll take a look see tonight and get back to you on it.
    “As for letting the people decide if there is to be a new system, especially one like the one laid out in the above guidebook, well as of yet none of the existing parties are proposing a new system, yours included, so in reality the people are not being given the opportunity to decide.”
    Hmmmm well in all fairness the BDA is only 6 weeks in the making. There are some dynamic people involved. You above all others know the kind of organisation and behind the scene things that are involved with a launch amongst other things like core values and constitution. Actually if I recall, you prefer a much more measured and methodical approach, so I believe this comment is unfair for the new group. The plan is to have a series of public meetings and then a general meeting to sort out issues like leadership and then start to formulate platform based upon open and frank discussions with the public and members, this I believe can allow a platform for Bermuda by Bermuda, once done then it can be up to Bermudians to decide on what type of system they would like. It’s no something we can ram down their throat, that’s been tried before and it doesn’t work. To my knowledge, and I’m not speaking for them, but referandums is big on the list of things to do for this group. They, we, really want Bermuda to have a say in direction.

  8. Sean,
    Not denouncing you so much as making sure my positions are clear. Premier Brown could easily have suggested we hold similar mindsets when he said he would take gambling to the people and yet look how different we are.
    I’ve spent years studying open/direct democracy and have come to learn that neither it, nor its interpretation is cut and dry. There are varying forms, many successful, many unsuccessful, some just facades. The Californian system for example is a poor example and one I don’t support while the Swiss system I feel to be a great example and one I am wholly in support of.
    As to what you’ve suggested regarding BDA, well yes and no. They’ve been talking about splitting off for months and months and yet didn’t take that time to plan. It doesn’t say a lot about preparedness and having contingencies. Always ask what you will do when your plan fails, no matter how foolproof it seems. Subsequently when they unofficially launched they talked about having much to show, but came out with little. Even this launch, there is nothing with teeth.
    You shouldn’t have to tell me these things here, you should be telling the people these things.
    Ie, the meeting schedule should be put up or at least a mention that there will be one. That you’ll put things to the people and how you intend to do so is also crucial information. It helps define you as different from what we have now.
    In all honestly, core values are worthless because there is nothing to ensure that they’re followed. They only have value if they emanate from within an organization from its shell to its very core. Core values are represented in actions, not words and without supporting actions they’re meaningless dribble.
    My advice is that you start telling the people what you intend to do. We need to know that there is something inherently different about you and how you’ll do things that is more than playing lip service. Go forth and share your plan with the people rather than just with me.

  9. Sean,
    I would have to agree with Denis on this one. You had all the opporunity yesterday to really get the ball rolling for the BDA. The general public was waiting to see what BDA was going to come out with. You had the attention of the PLP, the press and several bloggers.
    The webiste is crisp and clean which is great, but as Denis said there is little actual content with teeth. I understand that you want a platform for Bermuda by Bermuda – but why not when you released your big announcement and website lauch yesterday did you not include a series of dates for open discussion and your intentions to form your platfrom based on these discussions? Now BDA will have to try to re-gain the public attention and have to advertise these discussion forums to the general public to get the word around when you had everyone’s attention yesterday. This is where I again have to agree with Denis with lack of preparedness.
    I look forward to seeing what BDA comes out with in future, but am hoping to see a little more structure and clear vision.

  10. Dennis is correct concerning where BDA came from…I posted on Limey in Bermuda and outlined the concept of what the Alliance should try to be. My brother Alex shared the concept with me and I ran with it. Others may of thought it or spoke about it but I wrote it down and Dennis expanded on the concept as he outlined. Thanks Dennis for supporting the History of where the written concept of BDA came from

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